Field Sobriety Tests (FST's) are tests used by law enforcement to help determine whether or not a person is impaired. They are usually administered after a driver is pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. FST's are specifically designed to test a person's balance, coordination, and dexterity. Examples of the various types of FST's include:
- Walking a straight line;
- Finger to nose;
- One-leg stand; and
- Horizontal glaze (Nystagmus) test.
Should You Take a Field Sobriety Test?
If you are pulled over for suspicion of DWI, you will likely not have time to contact a DWI attorney to ask whether or not you should take a FST. Taking a FST is not required by law. This means that you, the driver, can elect not to take a FST. If you know that you are not intoxicated, we would recommend that you ask to take a breathalyzer test. Though breathalyzer tests are not completely reliable, they provide a more accurate measurement than FST's, especially for persons who have not consumed any alcohol.
FST's May Not Reliable
Did you know that even sober people fail FST's? It happens all of the time. FST's require movement that many people cannot perform in everyday life. Think of the number of people you know that are unable to balance on one leg. Drivers who have dexterity problems, medical illnesses, or other limitations that can affect their ability to perform the acrobatic movements required for FST's often fail the test. Furthermore, officers are required to adhere to the standards set forth in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Manual before the tests are allowed as evidence. Quite often, officers will make mistakes while administering the tests which can result in vast amounts of evidence being excluded.
What Happens if I Fail the FST?
If you take a FST and fail, do not be alarmed. Failing a FST does not automatically result in conviction for DWI. FST's are simply a type of evidence that the State can use to prove intoxication. There have been numerous debates regarding the reliability of FST's. Some judges do not find them to be an accurate measurement and do not give a failed FST much weight when making a determination regarding a DWI case. If you have failed a FST, our DWI attorneys can introduce evidence challenging the reliability of the test results.
We Can Help
If you were arrested and charged with DWI after failing a FST, contact us for help. We have defended clients in a number of DWI cases involving inaccurate FST results and have the knowledge and experience needed to provide you with a competent defense.
If you have been charged with a DWI, call the Law Office of Chadwick-Fricano-Weber to discuss your case. Call us at (603) 880-6100 to schedule an initial consultation with us.